Two in one
You had confessed to having turned down many films post-Vivah. Why say yes to Kaminey?
Yes, it’s true. After Vivah I sat at home for six months and refused most stories that came my way. That’s because I didn’t believe in any of the scripts that were being offered to me. But when I got a call from Vishal (Bhardwaj; director) and he narrated the script I knew right away that this was something I simply had to do!
How did you feel when you learnt that Saif Ali Khan had turned down the role you were playing in Kaminey?
Vishal has already denied this claim some time back. And it’s not even important to me really. You should ask Vishal whether Saif was approached first or not. Personally, I find it hard to believe that anyone would say no to a role as amazing as this one. I really can’t believe someone would refuse a film like this.
What kind of homework did you do for the stammer and the lisp?
To prepare for these roles we met up with speech therapists and people who suffered from these impediments. Our aim was to find out not only the medical reasons why and how they happened but also the mental aspect of it — on how the people who had these impediments felt about them, what they had to go through emotionally. We met up with some stammering clubs in Bandra and interacted with them extensively.
How difficult was it to create two characters out of one Shahid Kapur?
Both the roles had their own unique challenges. Charlie’s physique, for one, was very different from my personal appearance. Vishal and I were keen to do something radically different with Charlie’s look, and we wanted audiences to see the character and say — ‘Wow, is that really Shahid Kapur? Never seen him like this before!’ It took me nearly a year to change the look of my body. Plus, Charlie also has a lisp! With Guddu, who stammers in the film, we didn’t want this to end up looking like a caricature in any way. Stammering traditionally in Hindi films is usually done to amuse people. We were very clear that we did not want that to happen. Vishal is very particular about not making fun of people’s challenges. So we met up with ENT specialists and did thorough research on the subject of both stammering and lisping. The hardest was going from one character to the other.
You have a dance number Dhan te nan and you have a bare-bodied scene with the horses. Was Kaminey tailored for you once you agreed?
I have not danced for Kaminey at all! The Dhan te nan song required us to behave like normal people do at dance clubs — they don’t do any steps when dancing but simply move to the music. So we were specifically not allowed to do any steps in this song and we didn’t.
As for the bare-bodied scene… it took me a year of exercising five days a week, three hours each day and leaving all food that was tasty just so that I could build my body to look like it does in that topless scene….so Kaminey wasn’t tailored for me at all!
What was the Vishal Bhardwaj experience? Have you had any differences of late?
I think every actor should work with Vishal at least once. He makes you discover a side to your personality that you never thought existed! He makes you see the side inside you that you hadn’t even known. We all have a comfort zone in which we operate — doing things that we are good at doing and are comfortable doing. What he does is he picks you right out of your comfort zone and drops you outside that circle of comfort and says now do what you will. That helps you grow and discover yourself. For these characters, I didn’t have a reference point.... This helps in you making a character that’s totally original and completely you!
As for our supposed differences, as Vishal and I said the other day, certain sections of journalists today need to start calling themselves fiction writers. They can have a disclaimer on the top that says — ‘This is a work of fiction and all resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely incidental’…. There seems to be no accountability for some of these things that the journalists print in the name of ‘news’. For anyone to even think that I would actually get into a fight with Vishal sir, who has worked with my father… it’s simply ridiculous.
Is it the chemistry you generate with your co-stars (Vidya, Priyanka) that has people linking you with them every time?
Maybe because I am single, people are very curious to know the status of my current love life. People seem to be in a hurry to push me in a relationship and then marriage and then kids I think! All I can say is I have got used to these link-ups now and they don’t affect me so much.
Neither Maqbool nor Omkara did well at the box office. Does that worry you about Kaminey?
No, as Kaminey is an out-and-out entertainer which is meant for the masses.
Would you work on another film with Vishal?
Absolutely… I would like to do at least 10 more films with Vishal sir!